Built-in Desk: We’ll call it finished

Decor & Furnishings, DIY Projects, Home Improvement No Comment

The live-edge built-in slab desk is not 100% finished, but I suspect this is how it will stay for a while, so it’s officially off the list of active projects.

After sanding and sealing the slab, we moved it upstairs to put into its new home in the corner. To hold up the desk, we used legs and base kitchen cabinets (both from IKEA). Yeah, yeah, I know…. “Ikea kitchen cabinets for built in desks? How original”. But it worked! And we could slide our old CB2 filing cabinet underneath.

We wanted maximum storage and functionality, so we configured one of Ikea’s new Sektion base cabinets  to have two drawers on top, a two-door cabinet underneath, and a pull-out shelf for the printer to sit on.

Alex wanted gray, and since I usually run roughshod over his inputs to these things, I let him pick the color for the cabinets (I had been leaning towards white).

Once we put it together, I was …. unsure. I am either really bad at something (or everything) along the process of planning, visualizing, and executing. With so many projects, I put a lot of time into thinking about how I want it to look, picking pieces I really like and fit with the idea in my mind, and then, somehow, when it’s all together, it feels off. Like “huh, how did I end up here? it’s not how I thought it would look”. I had that sensation with the bathroom, the office at our last house, the outfit I picked out last week…. the list goes on. But I digress…


Not bad for Stage 1, although something is certainly missing. I eventually grew to appreciate the gray cabinet + chartreuse filing cabinet combo, although at first I wasn’t on board.

We knew we wanted to relocate the Schoolhouse Electric plug-in sconce to be centered over the desk (it had been off to the right in the above photo), so we did that first. I will say, the ease of relocation is big perk of a plug-in wall-mounted fixture! There might be more of those in my future.


We also knew we wanted shelves, for both practical and aesthetic purposes. We picked up some maple boards – and HOLY SHIT they were expensive. When the cashier announced my total (over $200) for two boards (a 10″ and 12″ width, each 7ft long), I was too stunned to do anything other than hand over my debit card (this is a bad habit of mine – I try to play it cool and act like I knew that was going to happen, even when inside I’m thinking “WTF? Say something! You don’t want to spend that much money! Why are you just handing him your card?!?”). I sheepishly asked Alex to return the 12″ wide one I had purchased (we kept the 10″ depth one) for $140 back in our pocket. We decided we didn’t need that much shelving, and it didn’t need to be that deep.


I gave the shelf boards the same polymerized tung oil treatment that the maple slab got. There’s a noticeable difference in tone – good or bad, it is what it is. I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back and try a light stain to see if I can match the board tone to the slab, or if I will embrace natural variation in maple wood. Probably option 2 since it’s the path of least resistance.

Once we started getting the shelves up, it was looking more like the office corner I was envisioning. We don’t have anything on those shelves that will “belong” there, long term, but I wanted to try out a few heights, colors, and shapes. Also because I’m not sure which of the many boxes in our storage closet contains our books, the shelf prop selection is limited.


The brackets are definitely larger and more prominent than I would have liked. But they were $2 white metal brackets found at Ikea, and when I added a few coat of Krylon Gold Leaf, they actually ended up a surprisingly fair approximation of natural brass (I wanted them to “go” with the sconce as well as the rest of the original brass hardware in this room). If I had looked a little harder and been willing to wait for a delivery, I probably could have found actual brass brackets, but would certainly pay more than $2/ea.  Instead, I’ll save my money to get actual brass hardware (Maybe from Schoolhouse or Rejuvenation). For the time being the cabinet is without knobs and pulls.

The clever placement of the shelves (staggered wall-to-wall up the corner walls) was another one of Alex’s ideas that made it to final approval. I was initially skeptical, but it ended up being a fun way to make the shelf area look a little more imposing and interesting.


And there it is! The view down the new desk! There will be LOTS of changes to the shelves, a few more storage solutions (both in the cabinet and on top of the desk), and definitely a new chair (the new desk setup makes this antique guy awkwardly short for the job). But they’ll be items to tackle another time. In the meantime, we’re enjoying our beautiful new worktop.

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